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How to sync Evolution with Google's PIM apps

By Andrew Min

Syncing with Gmail is the hardest part to set up in Evolution, but it's not that hard. First, enable IMAP in Gmail. Then open Evolution, go to Edit -> Preferences -> Mail Accounts, and click on the Add button. In the resulting wizard, enter your name, email address, and (optionally) your reply-to and organization. At the next screen of options for setting up email reception, change the server type to IMAP and put imap.gmail.com in the Server field. Enter your email address as your username, change Secure Connection to SSL, and change the Authentication Type to Password. Optionally, you can check Remember Password.

On the screen where you set up sending email, change the Server Type to SMTP, enter smtp.gmail.com in the Server box, check Server requires authentication, Secure Connection to TLS, Authentication to Login, and username to your email. Optionally, you can check Remember Password. Name your account and click Apply. You should see your new Gmail inbox under accountname/Inbox (not the On This Computer inbox) in the lefthand sidebar. Most of your Gmail folders will show up as subfolders under accountname/[Gmail], including All Mail (Archive), Drafts, Sent Mail, Spam, Starred, and Trash. Your labels should show up as a folder under ACCOUNTNAME.

You now have a barebones Gmail setup for Evolution. Some additional tweaks can make things more useful for ex-Gmail users. Go back to Preferences, edit the account you just created, and go to the Defaults tab. Change the Drafts folder to accountname/[Gmail]/Drafts, and the Sent Messages folder to accountname/[Gmail]/Sent Mail. This makes Evolution store your drafts and sent messages in Gmail rather than locally on your computer. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be support for doing the same with Junk or Trash.

Another recommended Gmail-like feature in Evolution is threads, a feature similar to Gmail's conversations. You can enable it by going to View -> Group By Threads or pressing Ctrl-T. When you do, replies will be grouped under threads. They certainly aren't as great as Gmail's conversations, but it's better than seeing duplicates all over the place.

Calendar

Google Calendar integration used to be hard to set up with Evolution. You could either do a read-only calendar or use GCalDaemon, which most non-Evolution users still use. But read-only was pointless and GCalDaemon could be slow. Then, Ebby Wiselyn hacked Google Calendar support for Evolution during the Google Summer of Code, and the code eventually made it into Evolution.

To add a Google Calendar, first go to the Calendars section of Evolution and create a new calendar with File -> New -> Calendar. Change the type to Google, give it a name, put in your username (not your email), then click Retrieve List. Select the calendar you wish to add from the drop-down list, and optionally assign a color. You can also choose whether to cache the calendar offline. Your calendar should then show up under the Google folder.

Support for Google Calendar isn't perfect, however. Evolution doesn't currently support repeating or all-day events (though that may be coming soon). Also, you can't sync your tasks or memos with Google Calendar, since GCal supports neither.

Contacts

A little-known feature in Evolution is the ability to synchronize your Evolution Contacts with Gmail's Address Book. This is a great way to get your contacts offline and still synchronized with Gmail. To set this up, go to Contacts and click File -> New -> Address Book. Change the Type to Google, give it a name, put in your username (without the @gmail.com), and optionally select SSL. Click Apply, and all your Gmail contacts should show up in Evolution's Address Book under Google -> addressbookname.

An optional but highly recommended step is to add autocompletion support for your Google contacts. This lets Evolution suggests contacts for you when you compose an email address. To set this up, go to Edit -> Preferences -> Autocompletion and check your Google address book. Now, when you start typing a name when composing an email, contacts' names should be suggested automatically.

Conclusion

Granted, Evolution and Google don't work seamlessly together the way you'd hope they would, but these tricks are a great start, and there's much to look forward to. Jason Willis started a GObject project that will eventually allow access to basically any product supported by the Google Data APIs. Ebby Wiselyn's Google Calendar integration used this API, and many other projects may follow.

 

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